Helmut Marko admitted he is happier to see Carlos Sainz succeed over Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, given his former ties to Red Bull, as well as Leclerc’s threat to Max Verstappen in the World Championship.
Sainz began life in Formula 1 as a Red Bull junior driver, taking a seat at Toro Rosso in his early years as Marko and the team kick-started his career.
But given Leclerc’s flying start to the year that saw him well clear of Verstappen at one point, Red Bull still see him as the main opposition outside the team to challenge the reigning champion towards the end of the season.
Sainz earned his first career victory by taking the chequered flag at Silverstone at the weekend, overtaking Leclerc after the Safety Car restart to do so, which pulled him back to within 11 points of his team-mate in the Drivers’ standings.
This development is likely to delay the use of team orders at Ferrari for the foreseeable future, given how close together the drivers are in the championship, which leaves open the possibility of the two taking points off each other – which would likely please Sainz’s former boss.
“I was happy for him,” Marko said on ServusTV’s “Sport und Talk aus dem Hangar-7” in Germany, per Motorsport-Total.
“I’m always happy when he wins and not Leclerc, it’s quite clear. So we are sporting there.”
Having been told to give Leclerc room at the Safety Car restart at Silverstone, Sainz quickly passed his team-mate after only a few corners and began to ease away from a frantic chasing pack.
Leclerc fought with all his might to keep Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton behind him while on used hard tyres, with those behind running fresher soft rubber to the end.
Marko believes that, had Leclerc yielded more easily in that moment, Perez had the pace within the RB18 to close Sainz down and challenge for victory.
“I was annoyed that Leclerc fought like that with his hard and older tyres, because we had a chance to win with Perez,” Marko said.
“We had the fastest car at the time, but in the battle first with Hamilton and then especially with Leclerc, we lost time and that’s when Sainz got the advantage that allowed him to win.”
Verstappen currently holds a 34-point advantage at the top of the Drivers’ Championship over Perez, and sits 43 points in front of Leclerc after the British Grand Prix.